Rao Abdur Raheem: The Militant Lawyer Who Wants Disabled Christian Girl Dead
From the Guardian:
A lawyer representing the man who accused a Pakistani Christian girl of blasphemy has said that if she is not convicted, Muslims could “take the law into their own hands”.
Rao Abdur Raheem cited the example of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who last year shot dead a politician who had called for reform of the much-abused blasphemy law.
…Raheem said he had taken on the case for free because he was convinced that Masih should be punished. “This girl is guilty. If the state overrides the court, then God will get a person to do the job,” he said.
I’ve written about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and their baleful consequences, previously. The current case, however, is particularly egregious; the accused girl, Rimsha Masih, reportedly has a learning disability. Raheem, however, is unconcerned about this: her medical assessement, he claims, was “illegal” and should not be taken into consideration.
In December 2010, Raheem created a self-described “lawyers’ forum”, called the Movement to Protect the Dignity of the Prophet; according to the New York Times, the group produced a petition in support of Qadri which was signed by a 1,000 lawyers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Members of the group also reportedly ”greeted Mr. Qadri’s… court appearances by throwing rose petals”. The NY Times noted:
…The lawyers’ stance is perhaps just the most glaring expression of what has become a deep generational divide tearing at the fabric of Pakistani society, and of the broad influence of religious conservatism — and even militancy — that now exists among the educated middle class.
They are often described as the Zia generation: Pakistanis who have come of age since the 1980s, when the military dictator, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, began to promote Islam in public education and to use it as a political tool to unify this young and insecure nation.
Raheem has also turned his attention to the internet and the US embassy; the Express Tribune reported in May that:
Margalla police station registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Facebook and three other websites under sections 295-A and 298-A of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) on the directions of Additional Sessions Judge Kamran Basharat Mufti. The application had been submitted by the Namoos-e-Risalat Lawyers Forum (NRLF).
One of the complainants, Advocate Rao Abdur Rahim, told The Express Tribune that they had been informed in July 2011 that Facebook and a few other websites had been posting ‘blasphemous’ posts on their websites and the material was being uploaded from inside Pakistan.
…”We gave three applications: one against Payam TV for telecasting a movie ‘Yousaf’, one against Facebook and three other websites and one against the US embassy in Islamabad for organising a gathering of gays and lesbians,” the petitioner said.
Yousaf is actually an Urdu television serial, telling the Koranic version of the story of the Biblical Joseph. Episodes can be found on YouTube.
Raheem has a Facebook page, consisting for the most part of jpegs of urdu documents. His group also has a Facebook page, under the spelling “Namos E Risalat Lawyers“, where a booklet in support of Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been posted. Hypocritically, both pages carry material condemning the violence of militant Buddhist monks in Burma (a subject I looked at here).
There’s also a YouTube channel related to the group, under the name “nrlfp50″ (The booklet on the group’s Facebook page includes a reference to a website, “nrlfp.com”, which is currently defunct). One of the videos posted is footage of a rally in support of the murderer Qadri:
UPDATE (2 September): Rimsha had been handed over to the police by a local imam; the AFP reported on 24 August:
Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam of the mosque in the Islamabad suburb of Mehrabad, insisted he had saved the girl, Rimsha, from mob violence by handing her to police but said the incident arose because Muslims had not stopped local Christians’ “anti-Islam activities” earlier.
Yesterday, it was reported that Chishti “has called for the law to be followed to its conclusion, even if that means the girl is executed”. However, his enthusiasm for having alleged blasphemers executed may perhaps now have cooled somewhat:
Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti appeared in court on Sunday after witnesses claimed to have seen him adding pages of the Qur’an to a bag of ashes Rimsha Masih had been carrying away for disposal last month in order to strengthen the case against her.
…Tahir Naveed Chaudhry from the All Pakistan Minority Committee said it had always maintained that evidence was planted on her.
“And now it is proved that the whole story was only designed to dislocate the Christian people,” he said. “He must be prosecuted under the blasphemy law as it will set a precedent against anyone else who tries to misuse that law.”
Rao’s bloodlust, though, remains undiminished:
“Our case is totally separate from the case against Chishti,” he said. “The man who accused him of adding pages from the Qur’an also confirmed that Rimsha burned a book containing verses from the Qur’an.”
- Rao Abdur Raheem: The Militant Lawyer Who Wants Disabled Christian Girl Dead (barthsnotes.com)
- Pakistan blasphemy case: ‘Muslims could take law into their own hands’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Pakistani mullah accused of trying to frame girl in blasphemy case (guardian.co.uk)
- Cleric held in blasphemy case – iAfrica.com (news.iafrica.com)
- Blasphemy case: Pak imam held for ‘implicating’ Christian girl- #Rimshacase (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Delay in Pakistan blasphemy case (edition.cnn.com)
- Pakistani mullah ‘planted charred texts’ on girl accused of blasphemy (guardian.co.uk)
- Pakistani Imam Faces Blasphemy Charge – Sky News (news.sky.com)
- Pakistani cleric Chisti may face blasphemy charges (arabtimesonline.com)
- Talk of violence against Rimsha worries her lawyer (hopeforthisworld.wordpress.com)